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Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, LLC v. United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division

May 20, 2019

CONSTELLIUM ROLLED PRODUCTS RAVENSWOOD, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STEEL, PAPER AND FORESTRY, RUBBER, MANUFACTURING, ENERGY, ALLIED INDUSTRIAL AND SERVICE WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION, AFL-CIO/CLC, et al., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINON AND ORDER

          THOMAS E. JOHNSTON, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Alter or Amend the Judgment Granting an Injunction.[1] (ECF No. 23.) For the reasons discussed herein, the Court DENIES the motion. (ECF No. 23.)

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of Plaintiff Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, LLC's (“Constellium”) unilateral decision to alter the benefits available to its Medicare-eligible retirees. (See ECF No. 12 at 4-5, ¶¶ 13-14.) The factual and procedural background of this action is fully detailed in the Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order granting the preliminary injunction, (ECF No. 16), and thus, need not be repeated at length. Most relevant here, on August 24, 2018, Constellium sent a letter to its Medicare-eligible retirees stating that, starting January 1, 2019, Constellium was terminating the employer provided group medical and drug coverage for Medicare-eligible retirees and, instead, these retirees could purchase supplemental Medicare insurance from Aon Retiree Health Exchange (“Aon”). (See ECF No. 12-5 at 1.) On November 26, 2018, Defendant United Steel Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO/CLC's (the “Union”) filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, requesting that the Court stop Constellium from implementing the above healthcare changes prior to arbitration. (ECF No. 12.)

         On December 4, 2018, the Court entered a Memorandum Opinion and Order granting the Union's motion for a preliminary injunction and ordering Constellium not to terminate its provision of healthcare benefits to its Medicare-eligible retirees pending arbitration. (ECF No. 16.) The Court also ordered the Union to post a $10, 000 injunction bond but gave the parties the opportunity to develop the record on the appropriate bond amount by submitting additional materials to the Court on or before December 10, 2018. (See Id. at 19.)

         On December 31, 2018, Constellium filed the present motion to alter or amend the Court's order granting the preliminary injunction. (ECF No. 23.) The Union timely responded to the motion, (ECF No. 25), and Constellium timely replied, (ECF No. 26). As such, the motion is fully briefed and ripe for adjudication.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), a party may move to alter or amend a judgment no later than 28 days after the entry of that judgment. “Rule 59(e) does not itself provide a standard under which a district court may grant a motion to alter or amend a judgment”; however, the Fourth Circuit has “previously recognized that there are three grounds for amending an earlier judgment: (1) to accommodate an intervening change in controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not available at trial; or (3) to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.” Pacific Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat. Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998) (citing EEOC v. Lockheed Martin Corp., Aero & Naval Sys., 116 F.3d 110, 112 (4th Cir. 1997); Hutchinson v. Staton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1081 (4th Cir. 1993)). “Rule 59(e) motions may not be used . . . to raise arguments which could have been raised prior to the issuance of the judgment, nor may they be used to argue a case under a novel legal theory that the party had the ability to address in the first instance.” Id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Constellium argues that it was a clear error of law for the Court to grant the Union's motion for a preliminary injunction and leave it to the arbitrator to decide whether the Union's claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata and/or collateral estoppel. (See ECF No. 24 at 1-2.) Specifically, Constellium argues that the All Writs Act allows courts to decide whether a claim is barred by res judicata and/or collateral estoppel and to stay arbitration. (See Id. at 3.) Constellium further argues that the doctrine of res judicata makes the position that the Union will espouse in arbitration futile, and, thus, a Boys Markets preliminary injunction is not warranted. (See Id. at 7.) Constellium lastly moves, in the alternative, for the Court to increase the injunction bond. (See Id. at 8-10.) The Court will address each of Constellium's requests in turn, beginning with Constellium's request for the Court to amend its judgment granting the preliminary injunction.

         A. Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment

         In support of its argument that the Court committed a clear error of law in finding that the arbitrator must decide whether the Union's claims were barred by res judicata, Constellium directs the Court to decisions in other jurisdictions in which a court found that the All Writs Act allowed it to intervene in arbitration “when faced with res judicata objections stemming from a prior federal judgment.” (See ECF No. 24 at 4 (quoting John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Olick, 151 F.3d 132, 139 (3d Cir. 1998)); see also Id. at 3 (citing Drag v. Southtrust Bank, No. 3:04-cv-319, 2005 WL 1883241, at *6 (W.D. N.C. Aug. 4, 2005)).)

         The Court considered and rejected Constellium's argument that the Court, rather than the arbitrator must decide whether the Union's claim was barred by res judicata. In holding that it was up to the arbitrator to decide, in the first instance, whether the Union's claim was barred by res judicata and/or collateral estoppel, the Court stated the following:

[T]he Fourth Circuit has held that “[w]hen evaluating arbitrability, we must not accept a party's invitations to critically appraise the merits of the underlying dispute.” See Peabody Holding Co., LLC v. UMWA, 665 F.3d 96, 104 (4th Cir. 2012); see also Del Webb Cmtys., Inc. v. Carlson, 817 F.3d 867, 873-74 (4th Cir. 2016) (‚ÄúProcedural questions arise once the obligation to arbitrate a matter is established, and may include such issues as the application of statutes of limitations, ...

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